Hey everyone, Gracie here. Did you check out the book cover yet for Welcome to Superhero School?
I am so excited to finally be able to share it with you! I really love it! It was a lot of work and took a lot longer than I expected, but it was worth the time and effort.
I thought you all might be interested in the overall process to create a book cover. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned about how to design a book cover!
1. Find inspiration to determine the ‘look’ of the cover.
I went through lots of books in the middle-grade action and adventure, fantasy fiction genre. Then, I selected the covers that had the look and feel that appealed to me. None of them were cartoony, they were more realistic. Each one shows a scene that looks exciting. I also really love these books! If you haven’t read them, I definitely recommend them all.
2. Research graphic designers who specialize in book covers.
First, I researched the illustrators for all the book covers I liked and looked at more of their work. Then I also looked on lots of websites where illustrators post samples of their work and can bid your project for you. I really liked 99designs for their great selection. You have to sign up to view their freelancers, but it was worth it.
3. Select a designer.
99designs is where I found Biserka Design, who ended up designing my book cover. I liked the look of their work samples.
They provided a bid that included hardback, paperback, and e-book covers, as each of these is a different file. Don’t forget to ask about timing and the process for making changes to the design.
4. Pick a scene for the cover.
Originally, I thought about doing something plain and simple for the cover that would look cool. But then after I thought about it and analyzed the book covers that I really loved, I realized I should do an action scene. I wanted to create a book cover that would make people think, “Wow! This is going to be a really exciting book!”
Once I decided that, I knew right away what scene from the manuscript I wanted to use for the cover. Here it is:
She looked toward the others for help, but they were busy——and things were getting heated in the dinosaur battle. One dinosaur had Nick tangled up in its mighty claws, and Nick was narrowly avoiding being skewered by three feet of razor-sharp metal. Jessica was trapped under the other dinosaur, shielding Darla and Jason. Mason was yelling at both of the dinosaurs and occasionally chucking boulders at their heads, using his Earth Power. Avery was flying around the dinosaurs, creating a wall of flames around them, and Ondrea was screaming at her to stop, fearing she might burn everyone else.
Doesn’t that sound exciting? That is just one of the many thrilling scenes in Welcome to Superhero School, but it is a personal favorite of mine so I thought it would be perfect for the cover. It’s appealing to me, so hopefully it’s appealing to you too!
5. Write a detailed description of the scene.
This part was really time consuming. As you know, I love the scene I chose. It’s a really exciting part of the book and in my mind I knew exactly how it should look. Communicating that vision took more time than I expected. I wrote out EVERY detail about this scene – face shapes, hairstyles and colors, scrapes and bruises, the color and type of every item of clothing, where each person should be in the scene, and so much more.
Basically, I tried to write out anything I could think of that would help Biserka Design create the image that was already in my head. I knew exactly how I wanted the scene to look, so I spent a lot of time writing out the details. I could have written even more, but eventually had to just send what I had to Biserka Design before my fingers fell off.
All that work was worth it when I saw the first draft. Look at this! It was really close to what I envisioned. The artist managed to capture exactly what I was thinking, and even the scale of the dinosaurs was perfect.
6. Start the editing process.
I loved the direction of the cover. Now it was time to make small changes to get it just right. For example, in the first cover draft Spencer (the boy in the front) looked a bit like an elf and Darla looked younger than I wanted her to. Addressing these, and other, details was a back and forth process that involved many tweaks. Once we made all the changes, I received the first draft of the cover in color. That was exciting!
Biserka Design did a great job of matching the colors to my description. My favorite part of the cover is the characters because they are so well depicted. They look just like I imagined them. It was important to me that the cover reflected my vision for the scene, because when you look at a book cover it tells you a lot about what to expect in the story without using words.
7. Keep editing.
You only get one chance to draw a reader in with the book cover, so I wanted to keep working on every detail until it felt just right. Biserka Design was great to work with. They kept making changes and were so patient and helpful.
After several versions, Biserka Design came up with a brilliant idea – a vine around the cover! It was the perfect touch to finalize the look. I love the creatures incorporated into the vine. The title letters are also hand drawn to match the vine. Isn’t that cool? These details really make the cover special.
8. Add text.
Now the cover was ready for my author bio and photo and the book description. The book description was fun to write! Hopefully, when you read it, it makes you want to read the book!
Here it is:
Welcome to Superhero School! Join Oliver, Jess, and all their friends on a mission to destroy the power-hungry, evil villains of Vork. From subterranean sewers to lush jungle, from dinosaurs to dragons, our heroes will be pushed to their limits in ways they’d never imagined. Will their collective Powers—Flight, Morphing, Invisibility, Mind Reading, and more—be enough for them to overcome the malevolence of Vork? Or will they stumble over their own doubts and painful histories? This action-packed journey of friendship, hardship, and humor will take our heroes to thrilling new heights and a deeper understanding of their own place in the world. But will that be enough—or will Vork always be one step ahead?
9. Make sure everything is easy to read.
The last step to create a book cover was making changes to ensure the text looked right. A very important tip when you create a book cover is to make sure everything is easy to read.
You want to help the reader as much as possible.
- For example, if you look at the word “Welcome” on the cover, you’ll see Biserka Design put a bit of a black shadow behind it. That works great there. But it didn’t originally work behind the blocks of text for my bio and book description because it made the words harder to read.
- I learned that it is always more difficult to read reversed-out text — light text on a dark background. As easy solution is to use a simple font whenever you have reversed out text.
- For the book description and the author bio, instead of a fancy font, or something that is light and airy, pick a workhorse font that is, you guessed it, easy to read.
- Group the bio picture and text together so the reader’s eye will see it as a unit.
- Adjust justifications, kerning (the spacing between the letters), letter heights and widths, etc. until you find it easy to read every part of the cover. Have others look at it as well.
Again, Biserka Design was great to work with and happy to make changes until we got it just right. By focusing on how the reader’s eyes would perceive the text and the cover, we came to a final version that looked great and was easy to read.
What do you think? I thought it would take about 2 weeks to create a book cover and it ended up taking a lot longer. But I think it was completely worth it because I love the book cover for Welcome to Superhero School! I hope you do too, and that it makes you want to pick up the book and read it.